Biography and History

Samuel Sitgreaves was a Philadelphia lawyer and one of the American commissioners charged with sorting out financial claims made against Americans by British creditors, including Loyalists, under Article Six of Jay's Treaty.

The second American treaty with England, "Jay's Treaty" was negotiated by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay in 1794. The treaty sought to resolve diplomatic issues arising out of the 1783 peace treaty that ended the American Revolution, settle commercial problems, and address neutral shipping rights issues. By Jay's treaty, England agreed to withdraw from frontier posts in the Ohio country which the Americans felt to be clearly in U.S. territory, and the Americans agreed to settle pre-Revolutionary debts and delineate the northeastern boundary with Canada. The British searches and seizures of American shipping, which were the cause of so much anger in the United States in the 1790s, were not addressed. The treaty provoked much hostile reaction in the U.S., and it was only the prestige of George Washington, who felt the measure necessary, that it was passed by the Congress. Two significant commissions were established by the Treaty, and each was made up of a five-member committee of American and British commissioners. Article Six of the Jay Treaty addressed the issue of American debts owed to British creditors, creating the "Debt Commission," and Article Seven gave American shippers and merchants whose vessels had been seized or sunk by the British the opportunity to file claims for remuneration via a "Seizure Commission." The Seizure Commission made good progress in settling American claims in the late 1790s, but the Debt Commission, with which the present collection of papers is concerned, became mired in conflict and acrimony over the difficult subjects it had to consider.

Source: From the finding aid for C1418

  • Jay's Treaty Collection. 1797-1799 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1418

    Samuel Sitgreaves was a Philadelphia lawyer and one of the American commissioners charged with sorting out financial claims made against Americans by British creditors, including Loyalists, under Article Six of Jay's Treaty (1794). Consists of Samuel Sitgreaves's collection of original manuscripts relating to an Anglo-American commission created by Jay's Treaty between the United States and England, as well as two printed works (1799) about prominent cases considered by the commission, one of which is annotated by Sitgreaves.